Asking for an open relationship: when monogamy is not your thing

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Our writer is not in a monogamous relationship; at least not anymore. She believes that pairing up for life can do more damage than good to a relationship, and she’s not alone. Couple’s therapist Lisa Fischbach even wrote a book on the issue.

In her book “Treue ist auch keine Lösung” (in English: Fidelity is not the solution) Lisa Fischbach explores the topic of monogamy through a reflection on trust and love. Although most people associate “fidelity” with their partner being “faithful”, the word actually originates from the Middle High German and means “strong” or “firm”. “Faith” on the other hand is based on “trust”. So, let’s talk about trust. Personally, I don’t think that having sex with a partner is the most important aspect in a relationship. Instead, every couple should have clarity what their individual trust model involves.

How dissatisfaction and expectation could lead to infidelity

Yes, I’m a trustworthy partner, but that doesn’t mean that I’m monogamous. Physical exclusivity is not a prerequisite for a relationship in my opinion, or at least it is no longer.

Monogamy can certainly work during the early stages of a relationship, perhaps even during the first few years, but my personal experiences have highlighted that a certain dissatisfaction sets in after a while. There’s an emotional rift that can open up between partners. At the same time, personal dissatisfaction can begin to collide with enormous expectations. Partners should stimulate each other intellectually and satisfy each other’s emotional and sexual needs. But let’s be honest, demands like these create enormous pressure for both partners to perform. That can’t be healthy. Surprisingly often the result is that one or both partners have an affair. According to research by ElitePartner, the dating site, every fourth man and every fifth woman in a relationship in Germany has previously had an affair.

The rules of an open relationship

In my opinion, it may be considerably healthier for most couples to open up their relationship model. I am not talking about the emotional side of things though. I couldn’t bear to see another woman loving my husband Niklas in a similarly intensive manner. In other words, I am not polygamous. The open relationship model I am talking about concerns physical love only. I am talking about having sex with others, whilst maintaining clear communication with my wonderful husband whom I love very much.

Truth be told, this approach saved my relationship. Until I decided to give it a try, I was suffering. I didn’t allow myself to even think about sleeping with another man. I was scared that it would destroy the love we had. At the same time, Niklas and I hadn’t had sex in two years. In the end, an open dialogue was our savior. After four years of marriage, my husband and I finally sat down to have an open and honest conversation. Niklas told me that he considered himself a very sexual person, but he worried that he couldn’t give me ‘everything’ I needed in bed. I reciprocated just how much I loved him, but that I was missing sex – a lot. In the end, he suggested we’d try an open relationship, but only under certain conditions. Our rules include:

#1: No sex with friends or acquaintances. The names and addresses of any sexual partners must remain a secret.

#2: Using a condom is utmost priority!

#3: We have clear rules on how much information we share with/about a sexual partner.

#4: We commit to weekly date nights, just for us.

#5: Never ever have casual sex at home.

#6: Continue to communicate openly about your feelings.

Open relationship – playing with fire?

For Niklas and I, things have worked out well and we’ve reignited a fire between us. We’re also having sex with each other more frequently again. If he’s not in the mood for sex, he can join me in the bedroom to watch me masturbate, which can be a fulfilling experience in itself. Therefore, it’s actually rare that I end up having sex with a stranger. However, just by introducing the option, we’ve boosted our marriage’s sexual quality. I am convinced this would be the case for many couples.

At the same time, I’m aware that an open relationship can be playing with fire. You may inadvertently hurt your partner, or maybe even develop feelings for another sexual partner. In the end, we’re only human. Love, sex and emotions – these aren’t easily separated despite theories suggesting otherwise. On the other hand, excluding the option for an open relationship entirely may be toxic to a relationship.

In our case, monogamy would likely have been the death of our marriage.

Want to read more about open marriages and relationships? Click here!

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